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10 Crucial Kitchen Skills Every Cook Should Master

The Season 13 finalists share the essential techniques and practices that even novice cooks can try.

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Knife Skills

Several finalists urge home cooks to learn a basic knowledge of knife skills. "I think learning proper knife skills, although it sounds boring, will make [cooking] more enjoyable," explains Addie. For Blake, the skill is a practical one. "There’s a specific way to cut [an onion] that will take you, like, five seconds, as opposed to just slicing it and trying to cut it a million times over and over," he says. "And then also, it’ll save you a lot of money if you know how to fabricate foods. So if you know how to buy a larger piece of meat and then cut it down into specific cuts and then save it, that’ll save you a lot of money as well." Rusty agrees with that thinking, and he adds, "Once you do that, don’t be so scared of food."

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Experimenting Whenever Possible

Amy recommends that you "just keep trying different things." She explains: "Try different foods, try different dishes. I have an instinctual knowledge of what flavors go well together. But if I’ve never cooked — the first time I cooked risotto, I had to Google how to cook risotto. So don’t be afraid to try stuff." Suzanne too notes the importance of determination, saying: "If you don’t know something, go out there and put yourself in that kitchen and learn. Your best teacher is you. Always believe that you can achieve what you put your mind to."

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Proper Salt Use

"I can't remember exactly who said it: The difference between good food and great food is always a pinch of salt," Cory tells us. "And that is the truth. I’ve had so many amazing meals, and then I’ve had so many meals that had potential to be amazing if there was just that extra pinch of salt."

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Kitchen Safety

"The kitchen can be a very dangerous place, with the knives, the flames," David warns, "so always be aware of your surroundings. Watch what’s going on, watch your temperatures." And with that, of course, comes a careful handling of raw meats, as, he notes, it's "very easy to cross contaminate." 

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